Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet

Here’s another item I picked up at the NDIPP partners meeting – a report by some pretty heavy organizations about the economics of digital preservation.

The organizations included: U.S. National Science Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the U.S. Library of Congress, the U.K. Joint Information Systems Committee, the Electronic Records Archives Program of the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Council on Library and Information Resources.

PDF linked here, for your reading pleasure.

Glossary of the report after the jump

The Glossary gives you an idea of the kinds of issues that the report addresses, as well as a whole new crop of buzzwords to sprinkle into your daily conversation, as in “The of disintermediation of the digital orphans from the LOCKSS-based dark archive helped to solve the free-rider problem.”

Have fun.

actors: any individual, group, or organization that plays a role in a preservation strategy.

analog preservation: activities focused on maintaining usability of traditional (non- digital) information resources, including print materials, film and video, and a variety of music carriers such as vinyl discs, magnetic tape, and glass cylinders.

ARC: Astrophysical Research Consortium archiving: activities that enable long-term retention of digital materials. Together with curation, often referred to as stewardship. authenticity: in preservation, refers to the perfect identity of a current object with its original state.

born digital: something that originates in digital form, as opposed to being converted from analog to digital format.

choice variables: the choices available to decision makers in designing sustainable preservation strategies. Choice variables are not attached to any particular class of digital assets and are found across a spectrum of preservation strategies.

CLOCKSS: Controlled LOCKSS (see LOCKSS below)

collectively produced Web content: content that is created interactively on the Web, the result of collaboration and contributions by consumers. Because of its collective nature, the ownership of such content is often ambiguous.

commercially owned cultural content: digital assets that are owned by private entities and are under copyright protection. This includes journalism, music, film, games, and an array of creative expression and popular culture.

content: digital information; the term is often used interchangeably with data or digital assets.

context-specific attributes: features of digital information that vary according to data type or user community and that shape or constrain choices among preservation strategies.

core attributes of digital assets: elements that are common to all preserved digital assets as economic goods. The attributes are: preservation is a derived demand; the materials are depreciable durable assets; the materials are nonrival in consumption; and the digital preservation process is temporally dynamic and path dependent.

curation: activities that enable use and long-term accessibility. In digital preservation, the curation and archiving together comprise stewardship.

dark archive: a digital repository that is not publicly accessible; often used for secure storage and back-up, and for materials embargoed for one reason or another.

data: digital information; the term is often used interchangeably with content or digital assets.

decision maker: an individual or group whose actions can determine preservation outcomes.

depreciable durable asset: something created to produce a flow of value over time, with the quality and quantity of the flow declining over time if actions are not taken to maintain the viability or productivity of the asset.

derived demand: demand for a good or service that is produced in the service of something else that is valued. Preservation is a derived demand; it is valued because it enables access to information over time.

digital assets: digital information; the term is often used interchangeably with data or content. The term does not refer to monetary or financial aspects in the asset unless specifically mentioned.

digital orphans: information assets whose ownership and provenance are uncertain, or whose owner is unwilling or unable to preserve it. These assets are at especially high risk of loss over time.

digital repository: a place where digital assets are deposited and stored.

disintermediation: the removal of an intermediary in a process. Digital technologies enable individuals and small groups to bypass publishers, for example, in creating and distributing content.

economically sustainable preservation: a means of keeping information accessible and usable over time by ensuring the ongoing and efficient allocation of resources to its maintenance.

emerging literature: new genres of scholarly discourse, such as online collaborative spaces, academic blogs, websites, e-prints.

free-rider problem: a situation arising when goods are nonrival in consumption, when benefits accrue to those who don‟t pay for them. For example, the costs of preserving digital assets may be borne by one organization, but the benefits accrue to many.

handoff: mechanism for transferring custody and/or preservation responsibility from one party to another.

ICPSR: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

IIPC: International Internet Preservation Consortium

irreversibility: in preservation, the fact that actions taken at one point in the digital lifecycle can predetermine others downstream. For example, a decision not to preserve for one reason or another may mean that the data are forever lost.

JISC: Joint Information Systems Committee KB: Koninklijke Bibliotheek [Dutch National Library]

layered demand: when a good or service is of interest to those beyond the immediate constituency for which it was created.

lifecycle: a series of stages through which something, in this case digital information, passes during its lifetime. The lifecycle for digital information includes creation, use and reuse, migration or emulation, and storage.

LOCKSS: Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe on the margin: investments are made “on the margin” when they are seen as incremental to existing expenditures or processes.

misalignment of incentives: a situation in which the factors that motivate one stakeholder to take action differ from those that motivate another stakeholder. An example of misaligned incentives in preservation is when an entity that owns information no longer sees value in keeping it and has no motivation to hand it off, yet another entity sees value in preserving the resource, but does not have the right to.

MOU: memorandum of understanding NARA: National Records and Archives Administration

NDIIPP: National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress

negative benefit: the undesirable effects of a decision or action (or failure to decide or act).

nonrivalrous consumption: a situation in which one person‟s use of a good does not impede or detract from another person‟s use of the same good. Digital assets are nonrivalrous goods because the cost of providing access to additional users is close to zero.

NSF: National Science Foundation

option strategy: the strategy of making modest investments in preservation to hedge against irreversible loss. By making a small current investment—for example, in secure storage, with no additional curation—decision makers effectively purchase the option of postponing their choice until they have better information.

path-dependency: when decisions one faces for any given circumstance are limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant.

PSID: Panel Study of Income Dynamics positive externality: an economic good produced by one party that has benefits that accrue to others. Such goods tend to be under produced in the marketplace. preservation: activities that enable the use and long-term accessibility of information; often used interchangeably with stewardship.

preservation strategy: the series of decisions taken over the course of the digital lifecycle to ensure long-term accessibility and usability, and to reduce outstanding risks to loss and degradation of the materials.

proxy organization: an entity that is sanctioned to act on behalf of present and future stakeholders. In preservation, a proxy organization might articulate constituent demand, promulgate best practices, develop selection criteria, and have the authority to enter into contractual relationships with archives. Examples of proxy organizations include libraries, archives, museums, some scientific consortia, and some professional societies.

research data: primary inputs into scientific, humanities and other research as well as the first-order results of that research.

scholarly discourse: the published output of scholarly inquiry; often called scholarly communication.

SDSS: Sloan Digital Sky Survey stakeholder: any individual, group, or entity that benefits from access to and use of preserved information, or who support or fund those who do. STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

stewardship: activities that enable use and long-term accessibility of information; often used interchangeably with preservation.

temporally dynamic: referring to an activity that takes place over time and may change during that time.

value proposition: a statement about or shared understanding of the benefits of a particular good or service.

wwPDB: Worldwide Protein Data Bank